1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
The words that got my attention this morning are in v.18, “give thanks in all circumstances”. It’s fairly easy to give thanks when things are going well around us. When we have plenty. When our health is good and we’re feeling strong. When relationships are good. When we are meeting our goals and looking ahead to what’s next. We should always give glory to God for the obvious blessings we enjoy at any given time.
The challenge is to give thanks, to rejoice, when things aren’t going well. When we’re experiencing “lack”. When friends and loved ones seem far away. When we’re falling behind rather than making progress. When our physical health suffers. How does one rejoice and give thanks when life is falling apart? Doesn’t seem realistic does it?
“give thanks in all circumstances”
I don’t think Paul’s words are a rejection of reality, but maybe more of a redirection of our focus. One of the common practices we have at Rejoice when meeting as a staff or in other group settings is the sharing of highs and lows. You can imagine, in Covid time, lows can be very easy to name. I have heard myself go on and on about struggles and difficulties. Highs – can be more illusive. Yet one of our rules is that you have to name at least one high.
It may sound like a small thing, but finding a high when everything seems to be going wrong is an important discipline for our community. For me in particular. It’s a small but important practice of gratitude, which I desperately need these days. Because the Lord keeps showing up in ways large and small throughout this pandemic. And if we ask for the Spirit’s help in seeing blessings, our spiritual eyes are awakened. We start seeing things that are invisible to the naked eye as, despite our circumstances, we “rejoice always”.
Lord let it be so. Amen.